When the apex organisation of the Ogoni people, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), described as “inaccurate and deceptive” Shell
Petroleum Development Company’s claim to have implemented in Ogoni 16 out of the 22 actions recommended by UNEP, it needed not be emphasised that it is going to be a near-impossibility for Ogoni to cooperate with the oil major except there is a mindset re-engineering particularly on the side of the Anglo-Dutch concern.
Igo Weli, Shell’s General Manager of Communications, in a widely reported interview with journalists declared that his company had completed 16 out of 22 actions given to it in the UNEP report and that Shell was waiting for the federal government and the host communities (Ogoni) to do their part to enable it finish the remaining six tasks.
The UNEP ‘Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland’ was unveiled in August 2011, but since then nothing has been done towards its execution. The UNEP had recommended in the report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland that 76 actions should be taken on the restoration; 50 actions for government; 22 for Shell and four for the community.
Now, Shell wants the world to believe the company has almost completed her bit but because Ogoni has failed to fulfil her part, hence the delay in commencement or rather completion of the cleanup and restoration exercise. So Ogoni is responsible for why the clean-up exercise in the area has not been implemented? Is this not an outright mischief and a clear provocation in an already charged relationship?
It is unimaginable that the Shell which has experienced a very bitter relationship with the Ogoni people could come out to say this sort of thing at this critical stage of the resolution of the company’s conflict with the area. Does it occur to the Anglo-Dutch transnational oil giant that its accusations could be grossly counter-productive especially coming at this time when the company, government, Ogoni and other stakeholders are having fruitful engagements to fast-track implementation of the UNEP report?
So if the people accuse Shell of mischief and covert manoeuvre can anybody fault that seeing what is already playing out? Nigerians would not hesitate to agree with the Ogonis that the federal government should closely watch Shell as the company’s expressed mindset is a clear warning that the Anglo-Dutch oil company may be up at something very mischievous especially relating to frustrating the efforts at remediating and restoring the Ogoni environment which the company single-handled ruined by its recklessness, irresponsibility and insensitivity to its operational environment.
As rightly said by MOSOP, it is glaring that the onslaught of deliberate falsehood against the Ogoni people at this time has deeper, mischievous intent far from mere provocative public sentiment against the people. If not, how can one explain this re-emergence of resort to blackmail, which has in the past contributed directly to the many crises that rocked Ogoni and ensured soured Shell-Ogoni relationship?
Already, the Ogoni apex organisation has alleged that “We have it on good authority that the latest Shell line is to squeeze Ogoni into submission in view of our stout resistance to an isolated clean-up approach favoured by the oil major as against multi-stakeholder approach supported by MOSOP. We are aware that Shell officials are uncomfortable with our position because the management echelon believes awarding dubious clean-up contracts to people lacking necessary technical capacity and acting as their fronts and end up covering spills, guarantees pecuniary benefits. This, of course, explains why even when the Abuja engagements clearly agreed on the multi-stakeholder approach, Shell has defiantly mobilised its incompetent clean-up contractors to site.
“Reports available to us have shown that the plots are aimed at enabling Shell achieve reduced fund contribution to the comprehensive restoration exercise. But we assure that this plot is doomed to fail as Ogoni will not only refuse to accept but would also resist all attempts at endorsing these “cover-ups” tagged “proper clean-ups”.
Is this the right way to go in conflict resolution and peace-building? Shell should answer this question!
Whose position are we going to believe now- Shell or MOSOP? Let’s even look at it: in truth, has the cleanup exercise as recommended by the UNEP environmental assessment report on Ogoniland commenced? Those who are not well acquainted with the Ogoni-Shell crisis may not appreciate the seriousness of a situation as ordinary as this but those who know would agree that what is gradually developing can erode whatever effort the government is putting to resolve this matter that has lingered for over two decades.
MOSOP has claimed it’s unaware of any isolated implementation of assigned actions by Shell anywhere in Ogoniland. If Shell has commenced action in the area, should the company not be working with representatives of the people? So who monitored and evaluated implementation of the 16 out of the 22 exercises the company claimed to have performed?” Wallahi, Shell seems not to have repented with its insincerity and dubiousness in dealing with the host communities across the Niger Delta including Ogoni.
How could Shell be claiming to have done 16 out of the 22 actions required in the UNEP exercise when in actual fact the Buhari-led federal government- approved structures (HYPREP’s Governing Council, Board of Trustees and the Advisory Council) have not been formed not to talk of being inaugurated?
It would be recalled that there were recent negotiations that took place in Abuja involving stakeholders in the clean-up project including the Federal Government, Shell and Ogoni representatives where agreement was reached for multi-stakeholder participation in the implementation of the Ogoni environmental restoration project to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation. It was these engagements that occasioned President Buhari’s approval of mechanisms to fast-track implementation of the UNEP report. And from all available details, none of the meetings ever agreed on isolated implementation. So how did Shell come up with this idea of isolated actions?
Before now, Shell had insisted that Ogoni community must take a proactive stand against oil theft and illegal refining as well as allow stakeholders responsible for the cleaning exercise access to the sites affected by the spills as recommended by the UNEP report. If MOSOP is saying it is unaware of Shell’s presence on the exercise anywhere in Ogoniland, then how did Shell have access to the pollution sites?
If it is true as alleged by MOSOP that Shell has been awarding so-called clean-up contracts to fronts and plans to force the reformed HYPREP to accept and rubber stamp these fake “clean-ups,” then it means the federal government’s intended amicable implementation of the Ogoni clean-up and environmental restoration exercise may yet be another source of violent crisis in the area. This is an early warning!
(Ieanyi Izeze lives in Abuja and can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)